fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling\ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce fumbling (audio) \

Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to grope for or handle something clumsily or aimlessly
b : to make awkward attempts to do or find something fumbled in his pocket for a coin
c : to search by trial and error
2 : to feel one's way or move awkwardly
3a : to drop or juggle or fail to play cleanly a grounder
b : to lose hold of a football while handling or running with it

transitive verb

1 : to bring about by clumsy manipulation
2a : to feel or handle clumsily
b : to deal with in a blundering way : bungle
3 : to make (one's way) in a clumsy manner
4a : misplay fumble a grounder
b : to lose hold of (a football) while handling or running



Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of fumbling
2 : a fumbled ball

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Other Words from fumble


fumbler \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce fumbler (audio) \ noun
fumblingly \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce fumblingly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of fumble in a Sentence

Verb She fumbled in her pocket for her keys. They fumbled a good opportunity to take control of the market. He was hit hard and fumbled on the 20-yard line. He fumbled the ball on the 20-yard line. Noun played the entire piano piece without a single fumble
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Linebacker Monty Rice iced the game on the next possession by forcing Guarantano to fumble on a sack and returning the recovery for a touchdown. Erick Smith, USA TODAY, "No. 3 Georgia uses strong second half to take down No. 12 Tennessee," 11 Oct. 2020 After the Cougars tied it at 7, linebacker Kevin Henry forced Tune to fumble on a sack. G Smith, NOLA.com, "Another reversal: Tulane falls 49-31 to Houston after taking 24-7 first-half lead.," 8 Oct. 2020 Blocking back Sharrod Neasman took a direct snap and had enough for the first down on a run up the middle, only to fumble the ball away. Paul Newberry, Star Tribune, "Wilson throws 4 TD passes, Seahawks beat Falcons 38-25," 13 Sep. 2020 The reader is left to fumble through a thicket of meaningless verbiage that pads out the narrative. Patrick Mulholland, National Review, "The Making of the Celebrity Monarchy," 29 Aug. 2020 Then a few plays later, Williams forced running back Dwayne Washington to fumble the ball. Amie Just | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Saints' Day 1 training camp observations: Andrus Peat absent, center/guard shuffle begins," 17 Aug. 2020 But right now, neither party in the U.S. seems interested in that, content instead to fumble together into a disastrous new era of great-power conflict. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "We Can’t Fight Climate Change Without China," 12 Aug. 2020 Oliver Darcy writes: The section has fumbled pieces about Brett Kavanaugh and Sarah Palin; apologized after publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon in its international edition; and faced heat amid numerous other controversies. Brian Stelter, CNN, "In newsrooms, 'a raging debate over the role journalists should be playing'," 8 June 2020 Junior running back Javon Leake fumbled three times and also scored Maryland’s only touchdown on a 58-yard run late in the game. Don Markus, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland, Leake fumble their way to sixth straight loss, embarrassed by struggling Nebraska, 54-7," 23 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Blazers managed to lose two yards in six plays on their next possession but defensive lineman Tony Fair recovered a fumble on the ensuing Hilltopper drive after Nikia Eason Jr. sacked Thomas. Evan Dudley, al, "Quarter-by-quarter look at UAB’s 37-14 win over Western Kentucky," 17 Oct. 2020 The Comets recovered a Colerain fumble, then went on a 16-play, 59-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by McCormick, who finished with 98 yards on 20 attempts. Shelby Dermer, The Enquirer, "Cincinnati Ohio high school football playoffs: Colerain handles Mason, sets up Lakota West rematch," 17 Oct. 2020 After the ensuing kickoff, Ehret defensive lineman Kevante Rousell recovered a fumble at the Chalmette 37. Darrell Williams, NOLA.com, "John Ehret builds big lead, then holds off Chalmette in District 8-5A game," 15 Oct. 2020 Giovanni Arredondo added seven tackles, while Nico Moreno and A.J. Henry had sacks, Joseph McGuire added an interception and J.C. Garza recovered a fumble. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Fort Bend ISD 5A schools cruise in Week 3 football," 13 Oct. 2020 Dakota Dozier was pushed back into Cousins' lap in the first quarter, and got beat by Damontre Moore on Cousins' first fumble of the game. Ben Goessling, Star Tribune, "Love it or hate it, Mike Zimmer is getting more aggressive on fourth downs," 12 Oct. 2020 However, Mullens struggled badly during the 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. oregonlive, "San Francisco 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo returns to practice," 8 Oct. 2020 This year has been more of a struggle: a four-and-out before halftime against the Houston Texans, then a fumble against the Chiefs and two bad incompletions to end the half Monday night. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "In 31-17 win vs. Washington, Ravens show they’re a good team that can get a lot better," 4 Oct. 2020 The Chargers, however, were unable to keep the momentum, things turning a short time later with the Kelley fumble. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "Justin Herbert and Chargers start quick before turning over game in loss," 4 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fumble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fumble


1534, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fumble


probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Swedish fumla to fumble

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Time Traveler for fumble

Time Traveler

The first known use of fumble was in 1534

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Statistics for fumble

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fumble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fumble. Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for fumble


How to pronounce fumble (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fumble

: to search for something by reaching or touching with your fingers in an awkward or clumsy way
: to handle something in an awkward or clumsy way
sports : to fail to catch or hold the ball


fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling

Kids Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to feel about for or handle something in a clumsy way He fumbled in his pockets.
2 : to lose hold of the ball in football



Kids Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of losing hold of the ball in football

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